Upon sale of a vehicle, the title record for the vehicle will remain in the seller's name until the buyer submits the seller's assigned title and applies for title in their (the buyer's) name. The best way to ensure this happens is for the seller to accompany the buyer to a Secretary of State branch office and process a title transfer application into the buyer's name.
Sellers run a risk if they do not ensure the buyer applies for title. The Michigan Department of State cannot change the name on a title record until a new title application from the purchaser is processed. If you cannot accompany your purchaser to a branch office to ensure the title is transferred, make a copy of the front and back of the title after assigning it to your buyer. This will protect you against negligent use of the vehicle after delivering it to the buyer as provided in Section 257.240 of the Michigan Vehicle Code:
1) The owner of a motor vehicle who has made a bona fide sale by transfer of his or her title or interest and who has delivered possession of the vehicle and the certificate of title to that vehicle properly endorsed to the purchaser or transferee is not liable for any damages or a violation of law that subsequently results from the use or ownership of the vehicle by another, if the owner, other than a licensed dealer, satisfies the conditions prescribed under subsection (2).
(2) The owner of a motor vehicle, other than a licensed dealer, shall satisfy 1 of the following conditions:
(a) Accompany the purchaser of the vehicle to a secretary of state branch office to assure that the title of the vehicle being sold is transferred.
(b) Maintain a record of the sale for not less than 18 months. As used in this subdivision, "record of the sale" means either a photocopy of the reassigned title or a form or document that includes the name, address, driver license number, and signature of the person to whom the vehicle is sold and the purchase price and date of sale of the vehicle.
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